Ohio Sports Betting Bill Sponsors ‘Will Be Ready To Go For The Lame Duck’

Posted on October 22, 2020

The Senate won’t get a head start on hearing Ohio sports betting legislation before the election. But sponsors of the bill say not to read anything into the inaction.

Sen. John Eklund and Rep. Dave Greenspan tell PlayOhio that H 194 still has a good shot at passing in a lame-duck session expected to begin in mid-November.

The sponsors crafted substitute language aligning the Ohio sports betting bills last month. Eklund had hoped to get the language vetted in committee prior to the election.

“A pre-election hearing is unlikely as things currently stand, but I remain hopeful for this calendar year,” Eklund said.

Why Ohio sports betting isn’t being prioritized

Greenspan explained that working on a repeal of the HB 6 took up all the legislature’s bandwidth prior to the election. House Bill 6 is an energy law at the center of a federal corruption case that got Rep. Larry Householder removed as speaker in July.

But, about sports betting, Greenspan added: “we will be ready to go for the lame duck.”

There was always going to be limited time to address the bill prior to the election. The legislature is not in session, but specific committees continue to meet during the off time.

H 194, which the House passed in May, has yet to receive committee assignment. It’s likely to be assigned to the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee, which does not have any meeting scheduled.

“Not much is getting heard as many members of both chambers are in the throes of campaigning,” Eklund said.

Long December coming for Ohio legislature

Ohio’s legislative session can last until the end of the year, though lawmakers surely would like to be done by Christmas.

If the sports betting bill doesn’t pass this year, it would have to start the legislative process over in 2021.

Key points of the Ohio sports betting substitute bill include:

  • Casino Control Commission as regulator (House bill had Lottery Commission)
  • 8% tax rate (a compromise between 10% in the House bill and 6.25% in the Senate)
  • Three skins allowed per casino/racino
  • No mandate for official league data
  • Initial license fee of $100,000

But Eklund pointed out that a lot of the particulars in the bill, such as the skins, were taken from what has worked in New Jersey. The sponsors want to hear from their colleagues and industry representatives on how they fit Ohio. That is what will come from the committee hearing.

“We’ve prepared a draft of a revised proposal and that draft will have to be reviewed by a number of people before we’re prepared to proceed with it as the bill,” Eklund said. “The substitute proposal contains a lot of what I call placeholders, which is to say we don’t know where this is going to come out eventually. But, for now, let’s do it this way and see what plays in Columbus.”

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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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